Disadvantage of the isles (Laurence Odie)

Yet another SIC councillor is quoted as being more concerned about the travel costs from the West Side or the North Mainland as they are from the isles.

The cost of commuting from all the outlying areas to Lerwick is high, but nothing to the costs from the North Isles and Whalsay. Walls to Lerwick is 25 miles and fuel costs are about £9, Hillswick to Lerwick 34 miles and fares about £12. Mid Yell to Lerwick is 39 miles (road distance only), fuel £14, plus ferry fares of £9.60 totals £23.60.

Carrying additional passengers in the Mainland costs very little more but from the isles four persons in a car the ferry cost would increase by £12.30, making it £35.90 from Mid Yell to Lerwick.

On top of that the isles have the inconvenience of always having to think “ferry timetable”. There is no-one at the Brig o’ Waas or at Mavis Grind closing the road for up to an hour at a time, and you don’t have to make a booking to get through.

I always acknowledge the difficulties experienced by the outlying areas in Shetland; the figures above are only to demonstrate the extra disadvantage of commuting from the outer isles.

It is well over 10 years since fixed links to the North Isles were first discussed and we are no further ahead. If more action had been taken then we could have been seeing massive savings now.

I know there is an urgent need to balance budgets, but don’t just put it on the ferry fares; it ends up being unproductive and is just a tax on the isles.

The SIC officials must sit down with the communities involved and discuss the best way forward. We need some radical thinking though, as it is imperative that we maintain the current day and evening service without increasing fares. The alternative is unthinkable.

Laurence Odie


Add Your Comment
  • Colin Hunter

    • June 17th, 2011 10:38

    The Ferry Timetable is not the only problem either. I recall one morning when I was still living in Unst and working on the Tugs at Sellaness. We had had a berthing at 0600 which had dragged on a bit due to a mooring rope getting caught under an anchor or something, not an uncommon occurrence. The tug did not regain the pier until 0915. Consequently I did not arrive at Toft until 0927 for the 0930 crossing. The ferry was the “Bigga” and the skipper decided to take aboard an Artic lorry from the un-booked queue, loaded with Re-bar for RAF Saxavord.the Booked vehicles were then taken aboard. I was the last car on and thought nothing of it until the skipper told the crewmember to “Pit yon black car aff, we’re ower wir marks” I protested that I was booked but was told I had forfieted my booking by not being there 5 minutes before. Not my fault! I was fortunate enough to get on the next ferry across Yell sound but had now missed my connection into Unst. When I arrived at Gutcher the lorry was still waiting there. I spoke to the driver who told me he had been booked on the ferry I had come over on and wasn’t booked into Unst until early afternoon because of the “Tarring” in Unst. The upshot was that I had to sit in the unbooked queue and didn’t get across the sound until 3 o’ clock! And all because of some mis-guided jobsworth!


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